Torosidis Cites Trip Down Under as Greece’s Turning Point
Greece captain Vasilis Torosidis said that last summer’s trip to Australia was the turning point in helping the team recover from the shock of missing out on Euro 2016 and qualify for the World Cup playoffs.
Michael Skibbe’s team booked their place in the playoffs following a straightforward 4-0 home win over whipping boys Gibraltar on Tuesday which saw them end their Group H campaign in second place and go through as one of the best runners-up.
The unseeded Greeks will now enter next week’s draw and face one of European football’s big guns in the playoffs which will take place next month.
And Torosidis, who scored the first goal in the 4-0 win at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Piraeus, says the key to Greece’s consistency in this campaign was a soul-searching trip to Australia to play two friendlies in the summer of 2016.
“The poor performances before that time when we failed to qualify for the Euro (2016) was not normal by our standards,” said Torosidis.
He added: “The defeats to the Faroe Islands, without underestimating our opponents, were something unprecedented for us. We closed that chapter though and sought to move on.
During that trip to Australia we all sat down, players and coaches, as well as the administration, and did a lot of talking and solved a lot of issues.”
Greece visited Australia for two friendlies in June 2016, losing one match against the Socceroos 1-0 while winning the other 2-1, before returning to embark on what has been an impressive qualifying campaign for Russia 2018.
“We know we will have a difficult draw,” said Torosidis of the upcoming World Cup playoff draw. “All the teams are very good at this stage; let's just hope we avoid Italy,” he added.
“We have shown what kind of team we can be during the last few months and we are almost there.”
For his part, coach Michael Skibbe said he doesn’t mind who Greece are paired with in the draw, which takes place next Tuesday, October 17.
“My goal since taking charge of the team has always been to qualify for the World Cup and I think we’ll make it through the playoffs,” said the German.
“I don’t have a particular preference in terms of the team we will face. I’m just happy that we’ve made it and let’s see next week who we will be drawn with,” he added, before highlighting the unity in his squad as a key factor.
“If you don’t play as a compact unit then you can’t do it. We’ve been successful because we do just that. Everybody is playing their part and playing for the team.”
“I think it’s been a very impressive and professional qualifying campaign from our side. Although we had some poor results lately drawing at home with Estonia and then losing to Belgium but in the end this point we got against Estonia was still important.”